Has GOD Become A By-Product In Our Conversations?

SCRIPTURE:  JEREMIAH CHAPTERS 11-13 (you will need your bible!)

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JEREMIAH’S CIRCUMSTANCES has gone from his own shelter to the town square; from the square to the SANCTUARY; from the sanctuary to the streets to proclaim God’s message to Israel.

Jeremiah lived in a day where there was no LOVE for God, no LOYALTY to God and, therefore, no light from God.  God had become a by-product in their conversation, a burden on their conduct and a curse in their community.  It was a day of SENSUALITY, SENSATIONALISM and SIN.

Listen to God speaking through the prophet’s lips, Jeremiah 7:24:

[24]  They would not listen to and obey Me or bend their ear, but followed the counsels and the stubborn promptings of their own evil hearts and minds, and they turned their backs and went in reverse instead of forward.

It was to this people Jeremiah was sent to be God’s prophetic voice, pleading God to a prodigal people.

Luke 15 tells a story we are all familiar with, of The Prodigal Son–a son who disowned his father and lived life on his own terms.  The word “prodigal” means, extravagantly wasteful because of “loose living” i.e. a debauched, profligate lifestyle  [Strong Concordance, Ref. #811.  (asotos) ].

MY STUDY in Jeremiah 11-13 is not a picture of a single son gone amok, but of a great number of prodigal people.

Chapter 11:1-17 – Broken Commitments

People are prodigal because of their broken commitment…or better stated perhaps, no commitment at all!

When reading through the verses here, pay close attention to the word “COVENANT” ( vss. 2, 3, 6, 8, and 10).  Covenant is a word that means AGREEMENT, or pact or alliance.  This isn’t a new covenant but the same one made with the forefathers of yesterday (Exodus 19:3; 24:3).

God’s COVENANT is both relational and conditional.

God had never failed to keep His end of the bargain, but the people had.

That brings us to our own commitment.  Look at the words in Scripture “Hear”, “Listen to”, “Tell”, “Proclaim”, and “Follow”.  It means to HONOR it!

F.B. Havergal wrote,  “Faithfulness to principle is only proved by faithfulness in detail.”

A professor in class one day stated, “You can either take this class seriously, or, you can take it over.”

Many in Jeremiah’s day, like many people today, never want to take COMMITMENT seriously.

And, a lack of COMMITMENT manifests itself in several ways:

  •  THE PRAYER CLOSET [King James Version] – MATTHEW 6:6 (AMP):  “But hqdefaultwhen you pray, go into your [most] private room, and close the door, pray to your Father,  Who is in secret; and your Father,  Who sees in secret, will reward you in the open.”

A “PRAYER CLOSET”, “private room” might be a daily commute, a bench in the backyard, a walk in the neighborhood, or the kitchen table.  The point is, that the “closet” is free from interruption, and listening ears.

“One concern of the devil is to keep Christians from praying.  He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work, prayerless religion.  He laughs at our toil, mocks our wisdom, but trembles when we PRAY” ~ Samuel Chadwick.

  • THE BIBLE – Jesus tells us to “Search the scriptures…”  (John 5:39)

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What would you say of a doctor that never read a medical book, a lawyer who never read a law-book?  Then what about a Christian who never reads the Bible?

Charles Spurgeon said, “There is dust enough on some if your Bibles to write “damnation” with your fingers.”

THE CHURCH-HOUSE – The Scriptures say “Not forsaking or neglecting to assemble together [as believers], as is the habit of some people, but admonishing (warning, urging, and encouraging) one another, and all the more faithfully as you see the Day approaching”  (Hebrews 10:25).

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Something is drastically wrong on Sunday mornings when we have to beg our crowd to come to church to hear about the Good-News.  

I’ve noticed over the years, when they do come in the Fall/Winter months, the local teams jersey’s are faithfully worn and the smart phones apps have live feeds of the big game for a quick check of the score.  It got to be such a Football Celebration rather than a Christ Celebration on Sunday mornings, a local pastor has now placed signs in the lobby reading “SPORTS FREE ZONE.”

THE OFFERING BASKET – “The basic question is not how much of our money we should give to God, but how much of God’s money we should keep ourselves.”  J. Oswald Sanders

JEREMIAH 11:9-14 – Severe Correction.

As to COMMITMENT, when we aren’t reminded constantly and don’t take it seriously, we will be severely corrected.  I think my folks said the same when growing up at home.

VERSE 11:  “I will bring on them a disaster they cannot escape.  Although they cry out to me, I will not listen,”  (NIV)

See the word “DISASTER”.  For the LOST that means Hell and for the BELIEVER it means that you lose your influence.

The Great Commission doesn’t say “teach” but “teach them to observe”  (Matthew 28:20).

JEREMIAH 11:18-23 – A Bloodthirsty Crowd on the Scene.

Tell people about misplaced trust, misguided theology and misleading teachers, people get hot under the collar  (See Proverbs 9:7).

Often, they resent criticism, will leave the assembly, or…react in revenge!

I noted 3 things in this passage of Scripture:

Their Place (11:21, 23; 12:6):  Family & friends of Jeremiah.

PREACHING, TEACHING the TRUTH doesn’t always make you popular with your audience.

Their Plot (11:18-19):  Jeremiah was a bit naive.

He quickly found out how cold, ruthless and inhuman some people can be.

Their Punishment (11:22-23):  It is obvious that Jeremiah is human.

He didn’t deny his anger or desire for justice, neither did he take matters in his own hands.  Jeremiah cast himself on God’s MERCY,

We need to understand the contrast between Jeremiah and Jesus.  How do we handle a PLOT?  We do what Jeremiah did and carry it to God.

JEREMIAH 13:1-7 – Defiant Contempt.

In studying this chapter note:

The Parable (13:1-7):  It’s self-explainable after reading it several times.  The BELT became ruined, rotted and contaminated.  It was fully useless.

It is a picture of the condition of God’s people.  How did they get that way?

Their Pride (13:8-11):  They had lifted up themselves and left out the Savior.

PRIDE is what got Satan expelled from Heaven and the people exiled from the land.

PRIDE lead to their idolatry, immorality and irreverence.

PRIDE has been called the vice of fools and the ruin of nations.  Hello, America!

Their Pain (13:14, 21-22, 26-27) – [READ]

BLINDED & CONFUSED (Chapter 12):

The Anguish (12_1-4):  JEREMIAH was coming close to concluding that God’s not fair. He seems to think that maybe God has been hoodwinked by these people.  They talked of God alright, but were never influenced in their decisions.

Jeremiah 12:2 b. :  “You are near in their mouths but far from their hearts.”

The Answer (12:5):  I thought it was interesting that God didn’t console or answer Jeremiah.  His answer was “You think it’s bad now, what will you do when it really gets serious? ”  Cheer up Jeremiah,  “the worst is yet to come!”

That’s what you have tom put up with when it come to “prodigal people”.

JESUS IS CALLING…

Calling the prodigal.

Come without delay.

Hear, O hear Him calling,

Calling now today.

 


CREDITS

Photos:  Google Image Search.

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible (AMP), except where noted.

Bible Dictionary:  VINE’S Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words – W.E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger, William White Jr.

Commentary:  Halley’s Bible Handbook New Revised Edition.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The SELF-Designated ‘Tripadvisor’

SCRIPTURE PASSAGE:  Jeremiah 10:23-24

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This next week, my wife and I our taking a trip to Lake Chelan, Washington to celebrate our 52nd wedding anniversary.  

We have never visited Lake Chelan, so this year, we decided to take the 4+ hour trip as an exciting romantic adventure.  And as always, when planning vacation trips, I appointed myself as the designated ‘trip advisor.’  

You know, the person who plans the car stops for photos, picnics, coffee breaks, hotels, lunches and dinner venues, etc.  Of course, I always inform my wife of my [our] plans, and mostly she agrees.

In my studying this week of the passage of Scripture, I came upon this joke a couple relating their vacation experiences to a friend:

“It sounds as if you had a great trip in Texas,”  he observed.  “But didn’t you tell me you were planning a trip to Colorado?”

“Well,: the husband said, “we changed our plans because, uh…”  His wife cut in, Oh, tell the truth, Fred!”

Fred was completely silent.  After a long pause, the wife continued,  “You know, it’s just ridiculous!  Fred simply will not ask for directions!”

I think my wife can show empathy with Fred’s wife.

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Proverbs 14:12 puts it another way:  “There is a way which seems right to a man and appears straight before him, BUT at the end of it is the way of death.”

This is so critically important to drink in, in our journey through life.  And at the age of 74, I  can tell you that it is a definite journey!

Mathew 7:13-14 also tells us of the broad way and a narrow way to take on the journey:

[13] “Enter through the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and spacious and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many are those who are entering through it.”

[14] “But the gate is narrow and the way is straightened and compressed that leads away to life, and few are those who find it.” 

The BROAD WAY is in yourself–depending on your own efforts to direct your life. The way is considered “broad” because of man’s EGO makes room for it and many walk on this same road.

BUT the Bible tells us that man’s way leads to destruction because we have a disease called SIN.  Notice the middle letter in the word SIN is “I”.

SIN is a mighty opponent because it deceives and distorts our view of direction on the roadway of life.  It makes us think we know where we;re going when we are really LOST!

The Bible gives some great examples of men–Being the Self-designatedTripAdvisors.” while trying to find the way on their own:

Samson found he couldn’t out muscle SIN to find his way.  Solomon found he couldn’t outwit SIN to find his way.  Jonah found he couldn’t out run SIN to find his way.  David found he couldn’t out maneuver SIN to find his way and Saul of Tarsus found he couldn’t out pious SIN to find his way.

But here’s some GOOD NEWS for the Directionally Impaired, who are willing to acknowledge their need for direction concerning the way of life.

The psalmist says:  “He leads the humble in what is right,  and the humble He teaches His way”  (Psalm 25:19).

The prophet Jeremiah knew his condition of directional impairment as he prayerfully understood and acknowledged his need before the LORD and confessed.

JEREMIAH says in VERSE 23:  “O LORD, I know” – the Hebrew word is “yada”.

The same word is used in Jeremiah 1:5:  “Before I formed you in the womb I KNEW [and] approved of you…”  It’s deeper than intellectual knowledge–it’s a personal commitment and intimate experience, a UNION–it’s the same word used in Genesis 4:1: “And Adam knew Eve as his wife…”

JESUS speaks of a similar union in John 15:16 (NIV):  “You did not choose me, but I chose you to go and bear fruit–fruit that will last…”

The focus on FRUIT BEARING seems to me an important emphasis in Scripture.

Notice Jeremiah’s FEAR in VERSE 24:  “O LORD, correct, instruct, and chastise me, but with judgment and in just measure–not in Your anger, lest You diminish me and bring me to nothing.”

The FEAR displayed could be rendered fruitless as I meditated on the verse and thought about the impact on my own journey’s end.  Wouldn’t it be horrifying to come to the end of your life and finding you been on the wrong road–that your life had taken a wrong turn and you’re heading in the wrong direction, from God’s perspective?  Would you have the same look on your face demonstrated in this movie clip:  PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES?

Planes, Trains and Automobiles
Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Jeremiah understood without the LORD in and directing his life, that he could do nothing–that he would be brought to the end of his days with nothing to show from his union–that he would face a DEAD END SIGN and be fruitless.

dead-end-signJESUS also reminded His followers in John 15:5 (AMP):  “I AM the vine; you are the branches. Whoever lives in Me and I in him bears much (abundant) fruit. However, apart from Me [cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing.”

GIVE PRAISE TO GOD, that Jeremiah believed this truth and acted in FAITH upon it!

He recognized man’s need and acknowledged and understood a life of OBEDIENCE; to a way which was outside of himself or his life would be brought to nothing!

On a deeper level, SUBMISSIVENESS to God’s will mean I acknowledge I’m Directionally Impaired (a sinner) and I need the Lord’s CORRECTION with on-going direction in my life to be FRUIT PRODUCING.

The word “Correct” in VERSE 24 MEANS, “to set right, penalize, discipline, admonish, instruct (The New Roget’s Thesaurus In Dictionary Form) — “but with judgment” or “with justice.” — which implies that which is proper, fitting, measure to mold and shape your life to be a fruit producer.

To me it’s significant JEREMIAH, perhaps the most religious person of his day, asks the LORD first…for CORRECTION.

Upon realizing and understanding his condition, Jeremiah’s first request is  “O Lord, correct, instruct, and chastise me,” NOT correct the other person, NOT change the circumstance I’m in right now, BUT “Correct me, O Lord.”  

This is up close and personal.  Are you up close and personal with the Lord today? Or, are you just playing games; just going through the motions or living on past accomplishments?  I asked myself the same questions several years ago, so I know your answers.

Are you then willing to SUBMIT to the Lord’s chastening, discipline, instructions, and admonishment as He determines it to be proper and fitting, or…are you overriding His direction?

Global Positioning System (GPS) – For a few hundred dollars, you can purchase a device that allows the directionally impaired to cover up or hide their need to be shown the way.  Even when we have a GPS, we often override the directions from that annoying voice because… we think there’s a better way, ignoring the “recalculating” cry of the device getting you back on the right path.

So do you have God’s GPS device?  It’s called “Christ in you, the hope of Glory!”

If you do have Christ in you, are you submissive to His directions–His will?  Are you experiencing CONFIDENCE in the present and do you have PEACE for the future?

If not, the Lord says to you,  “Call to Me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things, fenced in and hidden, which you do not know (do extinguish and recognize; have knowledge of and understand)”  [Jeremiah 33:3 AMP].

The wisest thing is to take ALL MATTERS to the LORD and ask Him to direct you.  

The Scripture says it best:

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CREDITS –

PHOTOS:  Google Image Search.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP), except where noted in the text.